As an inhabitant of Uus Maailm, a father, walker, biker, driver, and someone with an interest in urban issues, I have been eagerly anticipating the results of this competition with high expectations and hopes. The redesign of Koidu Street on this side of the Endla / Suur-Ameerika “maantee” will have a major impact on how we, as citizens, will be able to live in and utilize our neighbourhood, Uus Maailm, far more than any other recent projects or street renovations, and likely for the next couple of decades.

The short version

  1. Thoroughly alter the traffic pattern by
    1. uniting school space and Koidu park,
    2. creating a recognizable Koidu 80 plats with minimal traffic,
    3. breaking up all the residential streets leading into Koidu, allowing pedestrians but restricting cars from passing into or over Koidu,
    4. honoring the ideas of the Liikuvusagentuur T-Model for the Liivalaia-Kristiine tram line.
  2. Avoid artificial branding through material gloss, historicizing street decor, and coerced street branding. Instead, make the space more flexible for the residents to define their own brand through usage patterns and emerging lifestyle and urban culture, then make this coherent through later redesign.

The slightly longer version

When I look at the street, I see three major centers that require special consideration: the Suur Ameerika Entrance, the Koidu 80 plats, and the Humanitaargümnaasium / Koidu Park complex.

These three areas require a fundamental rethinking of how we consider public space. For me, this mainly means pushing further towards a car-free city (car-free not in the often misunderstood sense of forbidding cars, but in the sense of not depending on them).

As I understand, the brief asks for an urban space that prioritizes pedestrians/people above all modes of transport. For this reason, these three areas should go even further and fundamentally alter the traffic pattern by reducing through traffic to pedestrians and small vehicles, particularly in the school/park complex.

But also, to a degree, at the Koidu 80 plats, and (considering the proposed tram stop and the overall atmosphere setting character of an area entry) the Suur Ameerika Entrance. All the necessary functions of the street can be relocated elsewhere in the vicinity (parking, drop-off/pick-up around the school, utility vehicles).

The opportunity to combine school space and park space into one unit, uninterrupted unit by car traffic, is an amazing chance to create a truly free room for people to enjoy, reducing stress and noise.

Videviku can easily be restricted to pedestrian and small vehicle traffic at both ends, ending in Koidu, leaving access for residents, utilities, and emergency vehicles. This will create a real plats around Koidu 80 that can be traversed with vehicles along Koidu but does not become a transit thoroughfare between Luha and Tehnika. This should also be considered for Planeedi, Virmalise, Kiire, Videviku, Saturni, and Komeedi. None of the streets need to be traversable over Koidu.

Regarding the Suur Ameerika Entrance, the proposal from the Liikuvusagentuur T-Model 2022 should form the basis for any long-term considerations of how Koidu gets connected. It reasonably demands the reduction of the crossroads to a city- and human-sized dimension without losing any access opportunities. There is also a long-term vision to establish a good public space with facilities for the residents on the plot of the current gas station, another foundational entrance lighthouse project to mark the urban space as Uus Maailm. One could even dream of a proper connection between Kassisaba and Uus Maailm following this current project, and a further reduction of the Endla/Luise Autobahn.

These three outstanding areas will provide ample opportunity for the residents and the city to give purpose to the newly created urban space. Over time, given a certain flexibility and adaptability of people and administration, the newly emerging use patterns will offer “branding” opportunities for the area. And as we are looking at a decade-long development of urban character, we should reject any kind of preconceived branding that the proposals provide. Uus Maailm does not need marketing decoration or glossed-over historicized lamp posts, etc. Sensible preservation of historical details is, of course, preferable.

We need to be given the opportunity to properly use our urban space, and have an open ear and a long-term participatory vision following the much-welcomed redesign of Koidu Street.